Now that we’ve all had time to digest Thor: Love and Thunder, it’s time to talk about Jane Foster. Yes, she was phenomenal. Natalie Portman remains the icon our world does not deserve. And fans could have had so much with The Mighty Thor. But let me tell you, though, Marvel did Jane dirty.
Don’t get me wrong. We loved Love and Thunder. Like, a lot. Seriously you can read about just how much. However, it’s worth acknowledging that Marvel has had a…checkered past when it comes to its female characters. Seeing Natalie Portman return to go and then wield the hammer as The Mighty Thor was everything we wanted from this franchise. The torch was meant to be passed in a glorious advancement into a new era of superhero content explicitly made for the ladies.
Unfortunately, what fans were promised was not precisely what was delivered. Fans were ready for Natalie Portman to be Thor and for Chris Hemsworth’s lovable himbo to take his well-deserved retirement. We would have followed The Mighty Thor to the ends of the Earth. She would have made an incredible mother to the incoming Young Avengers (we know that’s where you’re going, Marvel, don’t lie to us). But ultimately, Marvel had this incredible opportunity and immediately squandered it.
Overall, the fact that Jane’s arc led to her ultimate demise felt like a disservice to the character. This was set up to be such an epic re-imagining of Thor as a character. Because, let’s be honest; Marvel has always struggled with Thor. Jane Foster presented an opportunity to give a new generation of fans a reason to love this character. Yet the MCU has contained precious little Jane Foster content since the character was introduced in Thor in 2011. She was always full of potential. A professor with a massive heart and gorgeous to boot. She was always the total package.
Now, it has to be acknowledged that Jane’s story was actually drawn right from comic canon. That’s more than okay! Even though Marvel has had a…, wishy-washy relationship with the comic canon, it’s their prerogative to include it throughout the MCU. From where this character has been within the MCU, the work hasn’t been done to warrant this particular arc. While Love and Thunder filled in the gaps in where this character has been, it’s still true that she’s been seen all too infrequently on-screen. I understand; Natalie Portman is busy being Natalie freaking Portman. That being said, there have just been so many opportunities to feature this character in a meaningful way.
There are so many parallels to be made between Jane Foster’s arc and Black Widow. Both of them are kick-ass women we can root for. Even when they’re imperfect, they’re a hell of a lot of fun to watch. And yes, they both epically saved the world. However, before their arcs come to an end, they’re ignored or treated terribly. Their arcs would have been so much more meaningful if their characters had been fully fleshed out. Both Jane Foster’s and Black Widow’s story is missing a crucial step: survival and to be more than just a female superhero that gets fridged.
Contrast that with Marvel’s bad boy Tony Stark. He was allowed to go from being the absolute worst (a literal war criminal) to the one whose death saved the entire Universe. We got to see his character transform from a spoiled man-child to a superhero in the truest sense of the word. We saw this character grow over one incredible solo movie, two that were less so, and multiple team-ups. He was given the benefit of being portrayed as a complex superhuman across multiple movies. His ultimate heroic end was painful and yet ultimately necessary to complete his story.
Jane’s arc was also emblematic of a larger problem with Love and Thunder and Marvel as a whole. Tessa Thompson, too was given a raw deal. We were promised so much more of this character and a whole lot. Unfortunately, as fun as it was, Thor: Love and Thunder was another in a long line of entries that refused to center on women’s stories. Watching Valkyrie as King would have also aided in telling a Jane Foster story that fans could get behind. Marvel needs more, not less, of these women leading the franchise going forward.
Marvel has other options when developing their female characters other than sexualizing them, ignoring them, or killing them off. These fearless women heroes are the representation we need in a genre too oversaturated with white men. This was an opportunity to give the character of Thor much-needed new life. Instead, fans were given what was meant to be an epic send-off that ultimately felt incomplete. Fans deserved better. The Mighty Thor deserved better. And we will always be left wondering what could have been.
I agree they did her dirty. I watched a video that said how it wasn’t an example of fridging because she had agency in her death. However, It seems to me that her death was used to motivate Thor Odinson because he was able to “move on”, and reopen his heart to others. So it may not be fridging exactly, but it still bugged me.